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Louis C.K. and the Louis C.K. Window

John Moe Dec 12, 2011

In the comedy world, every comedian is seeking what’s referred to as “a Louis C.K. deal”. Louis C.K. directs, writes, stars in, and – this is important – edits every episode of his TV show, giving him a terrific amount of control. He’s also blazing a trail in distribution, writes Peter Kafka in All Things D. C.K. makes stand-up specials available for fans through his website. For five bucks you can download a performance and watch it whenever you like. This isn’t all that unique, musicians have been doing it forever.

The new twist here is the way his experiment changes video “windows” — which determine when shows and movies show up on different outlets. By going direct-to-fanfirst, C.K. doesn’t shut off his chance to end up working the Big Media Companies he says he doesn’t want to work with. He’s just making them wait. So the people who really love him can get it right away, and he can capture almost all of that value in the transaction.

We’ll call it the Louis C.K. Window.

It can run for a week, or a month, or however long he’d like to be the sole outlet for his show. But then, if he wants to get more money for his product and reach a different audience, C.K. can sell the program to HBO or Showtime or Netflix for a “pay-TV window”. And then, eventually, to the likes of Comedy Central or FX. At some point, he can retail discs and downloads via Amazon and iTunes, etc.


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